CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 16. . . . April 11, 2003
It is the day before Jenny's birthday, and she knows exactly what she wants - the beautiful big kite in the general store. The problem is that it costs nine dollars and ninety-eight cents.
frowned. She only had two dollars
stamped her foot. "I knew it wouldn't fly.
Andrea Spalding is a gifted story teller who has 18 children's books ranging from picture books to young adult novels to her credit. She is particularly adept at evoking a west coast setting in her stories. The Most Beautiful Kite in the World is the second collaboration of Andrea Spalding and illustrator Leslie Elizabeth Watts who will be remembered for her illustrations of Sheree Fitch's books There's A Mouse in the House (1998) and If I Were the Moon (1999). The artist does a wonderful job of depicting the facial expressions of people in the story in several close-ups. No descriptive text is necessary as Watts brings to life the setting and characters of Spalding's book in clear, bright colours. An added bonus for younger listeners is the appearance of an irresistible little white terrier in almost every painting.
The Most Beautiful Kite in the World is a deceptively simple story which carries important themes well worth discussion. Most children have desperately wanted a certain toy, only to be disappointed at not receiving the desired item. Spalding's story shows that a gift is more than what it looks like or how much it costs. A true gift is one which is fashioned with love and comes with patience and ingenuity as part of the package. Jenny's change in the way she sees her kite is the sort of epiphany which will resound with adult readers and be understood by even the youngest listeners.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.